Jump to content

Recommended Posts

So I read the book yesterday, and saw the movie this morning, and sigh, I just don't know how to review this one at the moment. I could go all bonkers on the film and complain about the way it totally doesn't stay true to the book at all, OR I could ignore the book (since the filmmakers more or less did, except for character names and a few basic plot points) and try to treat the film as a typically Shrekian and creatively anachronistic panto.

If you've ever been to a panto, then you'll recognize what sort of groove this film is in, and you might not take offense to the way the soundtrack begins with ELO's 'Strange Magic' and goes on to utilize everything from Aretha Franklin's 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T' to Three Dog Night's 'Joy to the World' (i.e. the song that begins "Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine" -- sung by an elf, of course), or to the way they modernize the medieval technology the way The Flintstones modernized prehistoric technology, by showing people riding hand-cranked escalators at the marketplace, or by showing women try to look younger by receiving injections of BAT feces and OXen blood (i.e. BATOX -- get it?), etc.

Thing is, a few quasi-maybe-sorta-post-modern references to fairy tales like 'The Shoemaker and the Elves' aside, the book does not really lend itself to panto-ness. The book was obviously inspired by the Cinderella story, but in the same sense that Lewis's Till We Have Faces and the Narnia stories were inspired by ancient myths; in fact, around the time Ella tries to turn one of the prince's celebrity appearances into a political demonstration by holding up a banner that says "NO OGRECIDE", I was reminded of Doug Gresham's terrifying reports, back when Kennedy/Marshall was trying to develop their own version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to the effect that their writer had introduced trade unions ("Allied Leopards of Narnia") and similar abominations to the story.

So. How to approach this. How to approach this.

How long has it been, anyway, since we had a straightforward medieval kids' movie that was content to be non-hip? At the moment my mind is cluttered with Shrek and A Knight's Tale and similar quasi-modern, quasi-anachronistic, quasi-panto-ish films. (Hmm, Drew Barrymore's Cinderella movie was just a few years ago, and that wasn't too modernized, was it?)

Oh, and I probably can't say this in a "Christian" review, so allow me to say it here -- Anne Hathaway is one sexy lady.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So I read the book yesterday, and saw the movie this morning, and sigh, I just don't know how to review this one at the moment. I could go all bonkers on the film and complain about the way it totally doesn't stay true to the book at all, OR I could ignore the book (since the filmmakers more or less did, except for character names and a few basic plot points)...

The trailer I saw today before Jersey Girl actually made the point that they threw out the book, so I guess that's an acknowledgement towards that fact.

Oh, and I probably can't say this in a "Christian" review, so allow me to say it here -- Anne Hathaway is one sexy lady.

Indeed. I think that's the only reason I ended up watching The Princess Diaries laugh.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites

Clint M wrote:

: The trailer I saw today before Jersey Girl actually made the point that

: they threw out the book . . .

Huh, I'll have to track down that trailer and/or keep that in mind when I write my review.

BTW, it is amazing how many modern-sounding lines there are in this script -- a sampling: "I have a no-return policy"; "I'm going to need so much therapy after this"; "Do you get a kick out of near-death experiences?"; "I could pull a few strings"; "Now I know what name to put on the restraining order"; "You are one freaky chick"; "Go get down with the Prince ... now that's what I'm talking about!" I repeat, that is just a sampling. Add to this the fact that the "good" girl is into leftie politics and the "bad" girl is the one who speaks in favour of "free enterprise". I will admit, though, that I was amused by "If the gauntlet doesn't fit, you must acquit!"

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Clint M wrote:

: The trailer I saw today before Jersey Girl actually made the point that

: they threw out the book . . .

Huh, I'll have to track down that trailer and/or keep that in mind when I write my review.

http://www.apple.com/trailers/miramax/ella_enchanted/

I just re-watched it, and the narration goes something like this:

"Some fairy tales begin with 'Once Upon a Time', some end with 'Happily Ever After', and some just throw away the book(!)."

So I assume if you have read the book, the trailer might be hinting at the fact that they didn't really care much for the source material other than to do a Page One on the script. Or maybe I'm reaching too far.

Oh, and what did you think about Ms. Hathaway's rendition of "We Are the Champions?" From a singer's soundpoint, it sounded o.k. at best...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Clint M wrote:

: http://www.apple.com/trailers/miramax/ella_enchanted/

Aha, more anachronistic lines that I had forgotten about: "How about free-range?" (which doesn't really answer the question that is asked of her at that point); "You shouldn't believe everything you read in Medieval Teen"; "C'mon guys, we've got a coronation to crash!" And one that I had not forgotten, but had avoided mentioning for more spoiler-ish reasons: "Freeze!" Oh, and I just remembered one more that is not in the trailer: When Ella is a girl, one of the other children says "Bite me!" and Ella, being cursed with obedience, actually bites her.

: I just re-watched it, and the narration goes something like this:

: "Some fairy tales begin with 'Once Upon a Time', some end with 'Happily

: Ever After', and some just throw away the book(!)."

Hmmm. It seems to me they're not openly saying that they are throwing away the original novel, but rather, that this film will not be a traditional fairy-tale film.

: Oh, and what did you think about Ms. Hathaway's rendition of "We Are

: the Champions?" From a singer's soundpoint, it sounded o.k. at best...

Actually, it's another Queen song ('Somebody to Love'). I must confess I wasn't listening to the singing so much as waching the singer at that point. smile.gif

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

: Oh, and what did you think about Ms. Hathaway's rendition of "We Are

: the Champions?" From a singer's soundpoint, it sounded o.k. at best...

Actually, it's another Queen song ('Somebody to Love'). I must confess I wasn't listening to the singing so much as waching the singer at that point. smile.gif

I knew I had gotten the title wrong when I wrote that message, I couldn't think of the correct one. D'Oh!

She actually sings it at the end of the movie? (I haven't had a chance to see it yet.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Clint M wrote:

: She actually sings it at the end of the movie?

No, in the middle. There's another song at the end (Elton John's 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart', I think), which is more of a group thing, almost in the spirit of Bollywood flicks -- but I might be saying that just cuz two of the co-stars are Anglo-Indian (or Indo-English?) actors Jimi Mistry (East Is East, The Guru) and Parminder Nagra (Bend It Like Beckham). smile.gif

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ordinarily, my review would be up at CT.com today, but it's a holiday, so it won't be up until Monday. In the meantime, I just feel like raising an issue with regard to this film that I didn't go into all that deeply in my review of it -- an issue that might interest those who believe Christian movie reviews should delve more deeply into politics and the like.

What I DO say in my review is that, whereas the characters in the book show a genuine interest in other cultures, the film simply falls back on politically-correct clich

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, and I probably can't say this in a "Christian" review, so allow me to say it here -- Anne Hathaway is one sexy lady.

Well, can't say she's struck me that way. But apparently she's on a lot of lists in that way. Ain't It Cool devoted a post recently to the fact that she's already disrobed for a "grownup" film called Havoc, which reportedly sucks.

I have more and more respect for those actresses who resist indulging their audiences in such predictable ways. It's very rare that nudity is used effectively in a film. It's all too common that it's used as a way to get advance buzz going for an otherwise bad piece of work.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, my review.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 10 years later...

Many years later, this paper I gave at a conference is still routinely in my top 20 analytics from month to month.

 

Dis-Enchanted: Female Power and Authority in Ella Enchanted and Kill Bill:Volume 2

 

The fact that it seems odd, unorthodox, or against the grain for a Christian to judge Tarantino’s film superior–not just artistically but morally–to Ella Enchanted could shine a spotlight on some of the deficiencies of Christian criticism (cinematic or literary) as it is most commonly practiced. Christian criticism of the moment (as practiced by [names redacted]) is so singularly focused on classifying subject matter as inherently good or inherently objectionable that it leaves itself no meaningful way to describe, evaluate, and critique meaning.
Ken Gire said, “I would rather be told an R rated truth than a G rated lie,” a sentiment that is not only contrary to most contemporary Christian criticism but which would be essentially meaningless in an evaluative rubric that is strictly quantitative. That is to say, a systematic evaluation that rests on a foundation of classifying subject matter and consists primarily of counting (swear words, body parts, instances of drug or alcohol use) has no logically consistent way of arriving at a preference for Kill Bill over Ella Enchanted. I’m not even broaching here the value of interacting with a well crafted work of art that one might ultimately deem to be morally or philosophically deficient–though I will say, as an aside, that I think there is some. Rather, what I’m trying to point out is that the question of moral truth (which I’m defining here as a work of art’s thematic conformity to or consistency with a pre-defined moral code or belief system) has no place in the current dominant Christan formula for evaluating the arts…and that’s scandalous. What most often ends up being endorsed is often not the excellent but the unobjectionable, not the the work of art that is morally or spiritually honest, but the one that is innocuous.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...